Ring vs. Nest: Best Video Doorbells of 2018
The Ring and Nest video doorbells are among the best on the market. Our shopping guide is here to help you find out which video doorbell is right for you.
Battle of the Video Doorbells: Ring Pro vs. Nest Hello
When smart home technology first became available to consumers, everyone loved the instant magic of being able to turn on lights with voice commands and saving money with self-adjusting thermostats. But now that the basics from The Jetsons have been covered, smart technology is getting even more useful and fun—and one of the most surprising areas of innovation is with video doorbells.
Video doorbells are the smart home tech you never knew you needed: They add an unprecedented level of security and convenience, and they're affordable enough for everyone. If you're ready to outfit your home with our favorite new smart tech, get ready to dig in to the top two contenders on the market: Ring Pro and Nest Hello.
The Three Best Video Doorbells
Editor's choice: Nest Hello Video Doorbell
Bottom line: Nest continues to create top-of-the-line smart home products. The Nest Hello continues the trend, offering unparalleled video quality and facial recognition. It's the perfect choice for anyone who wants an always-on home security device in their front door.
Editor's notes: Video quality is the Nest Hello's killer feature: with automatic HDR, you can easily see anyone, no matter the weather or time of day. The monthly plan is more expensive, but you get the ability to monitor your home's entrance 24 hours a day.
Best value: Ring Pro Video Doorbell
Bottom line: The Ring Pro is the most affordable, fully featured video doorbell on the market, and their app creates an instant community of neighbors helping to keep one another safe. It's an easy choice for anyone looking to build a budget security system that doesn't skimp on features.
Editor's notes: Although the retail cost for the Ring Pro is higher than the Nest Hello, the subscription plans are much more affordable, making it the better value.
Best Budget Buy: Ring Video Doorbell 2
Bottom line: The Ring Video Doorbell 2 does everything the Ring Video Pro does, except for advanced motion detection and connectivity to 5.0GHz Wi-Fi networks. It's also compatible with a battery pack, making it an ideal choice for apartment dwellers or homeowners without pre-existing doorbell wiring.
Editor's notes: The Ring Video Doorbell 2 is one of the company's bulkiest offerings, but if you can live without the motion detection, it's a good option that will save you a little money.
Why Everyone Should Own a Video Doorbell
While the initial concept of a video doorbell may not sound all that exciting, they offer features that go well beyond a simple chime:
- You can see who's at the door. This might be a little obvious, but it's a big deal to be able to see who's visiting. If a pesky solicitor shows up, you don't have to respond; if a Girl Scout rings, you never have to miss a single cookie; and if a package is delivered, you can get it as soon as it arrives and reduce the risk of theft. With a video doorbell, being able to see visitors takes the surprise out of receiving visitors—which gives owners more peace of mind.
- You can respond to visitors, even when you're not home. Most video doorbells include built-in intercoms, so you can have conversations with anyone who has rung it—even if you're not home. Because video doorbells connect to Wi-Fi, they can send conversations directly to your smartphone, so you can ask a solicitor what they want, tell your friends you'll be home soon, or scare off would-be thieves by letting them know they're on camera.
- You can record suspicious activity. Video doorbells don't just provide live video streams; they can also record video for later review. If you notice suspicious behavior like lurking, you can save the video recordings that your doorbell makes, and in some cases, post them online to warn your neighbors of potential threats.
Ring Pro vs. Nest Hello: Which Has the Best Specs?
The Ring Pro and the Nest Hello have similar feature sets, but each has a few unique features that the other can't touch. Here's what we love most about each.
- Nest Hello records at 1600 x 1200 resolution, supports the current 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, and includes facial recognition. That means you'll get clear videos, alerts about unfamiliar visitors, and super-fast access to your doorbell from your phone. And while the Nest's videos aren't as sharp as those from the Ring Pro, they support HDR processing, meaning they're much brighter and easier to see than Ring's. The Nest Hello also records continuously, which is great if you want to always have recent security videos around. On the other hand, that also means it's constantly uploading video to the web, and if your internet service provider imposes a data cap, it could put you at risk of going over your monthly limit.
- Ring Pro records full high-definition (1080p) videos, uses the older 802.11n Wi-Fi standard, and typically costs about $20 more than the Nest Hello. While it doesn't have facial recognition, it's got lower monthly fees, which can make it the more affordable option in the long run. Ring Pro also sports the better app, called "Neighbors," which lets you post and review Ring doorbell videos to keep tabs on local activity.
Monthly Subscription Fees
Both the Ring Pro and the Nest Hello are solid home security products for anyone who wants to take a hands-on approach to monitoring their front door, but they become even more valuable if you subscribe to any of their monthly security plans.
- Nest Hello works with the Nest Aware subscription program, which supports 24/7 video recording and makes the last five days of video available in the cloud. It also includes "intelligent alerts," which use data like facial recognition, time of day, and typical patterns to let you know when something unusual is happening on your doorstep. Plans range from $5 per month (or $50 per year) to $30 per month (or $300 per year). If you want to have your doorbell protect your home 24 hours a day, the Nest Hello is your best bet—it's just not the cheapest.
- Ring Pro offers two different levels of service: Protect Basic, which is $3 per month (or $30 annually) and Protect Plus, which is $10 per month (or $100 annually). Both plans allow you to access videos of every event at your doorbell for up to 60 days, but the Protect Plus plan includes the Ring Alarm Professional Monitoring, a typical security service where you can get help proactively keeping watch and working with authorities in the event of a problem. While Ring Pro is clearly the more affordable option, it's important to note that it doesn't offer 24/7 monitoring, so videos are limited to those started by an activated motion sensor.
Q. What do video doorbell chimes sound like?
A. Most video doorbells feature chimes that mimic the sounds of classic doorbells, so you can expect a standard "ding-dong" sound on any model you buy. However, video doorbells often include LED lights, so when they're pressed, the visitor sees a blinking light that indicates you're being contacted.
Q. Can I use a Nest Hello or a Ring Pro without a monthly subscription plan?
A. Yes, but we wouldn't recommend it. The Nest Hello only records three hours at a time without a subscription, and it won't send any alerts. On the Ring Pro, if you don't have a subscription, you can view a live video feed from your doorbell, but you can't save or review any recordings.
Q. Can I install a video doorbell myself?
A. Yes, but we recommend hiring an electrician or a contractor. Both the Ring Pro and the Nest Hello are fairly easy to set up—provided you're comfortable working with your home's existing wiring and you turn off the power beforehand. If you've never worked with your home's electrical system, play it safe and hire an expert to install your video doorbell for you.